Cast Offs Review: Abled Television

November 24, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


castoffs300CAST OFFS: Tuesday 24th November, Channel 4, 11.05 ALERT ME

It’s only been around for a decade or so but already the genre of reality television looks more exhausted than Gordon Brown after a game of I Spy.

Big Brother has been done to death, Wife Swap is going to be axed and the less said about Celebrity Love Island the better.

So we’re left with Come Dine With Me and X Factor.

From the sublime to the ridiculous…

But fear not because reality TV is showing signs of evolving into a far brighter animal than many thought possible. Cast Offs, a controversial but painfully-original and engaging new show from Channel 4 is definitely one of these.

Set up as a reality-style social experiment, it apes its time-worn brethren by supposedly telling the story of six disabled people and their battle to survive on a deserted island for three months.

But of course everyone involved is in on the deal, this is reality TV with a script – and a superb script at that.

This groundbreaking piece of television shows handicapped people at their best and worst, the blind man shirks chores, the woman with cherubism argues with the thalidomide-suffering over food, the deaf woman complains that the dwarf’s lips are “too small to read” and they all fire non-PC comments around like Alf Garnett after a night in the pub.

Consequently, Cast Offs superbly shows them up for what they really are – normal people who like to get drunk, take the mick out of their mates and put their foot in their mouth when they talk to someone they fancy.

It is funny, thought-provoking, and at time heart-warming viewing which demonstrates the power television can have as a positive force in society.

Written and starring genuinely disabled people (some of which are seasoned actors, others debutants) the show concentrates on one individual’s story in each episode. This week we meet Dan, a promising rugby player who lost the use of his legs after a car accident. Obviously he struggles to get to grips with his new life at times, but his relationship with his dad and his new wheelchair basketball team is touching.

The overall result is an eye-opening and thoroughly rewarding piece of TV.

Sean Marland

Andy P says:

Stunned! Absolutely STUNNED by Robeeh’s comment. I cannot understand where you are coming from on any level. I can only assume that you aired your views after only one episode and, as an able bodied person, I guess I must respect your ‘first hand’ knowledge (for want of a better description). What I will take issue with is your belief that this programme will not change people’s views on disability. It is my view that Mat Fraser’s performance is the finest I have witnessed on our screens for a number of years. The fact that he is disabled means nothing. If you cannot accept that and acknowledge the man’s awesome acting skills then it is you who has the problem.

Robeeh says:

As a disabled actor and writier I could not have been more disappointed by this programme if I tried! The premise was forced and yet managed to be completely boring and pointless at the same time. I don’t know what is especially clever about disabled people being as offensive as possible to other disabled people, what is the point exactly? Want of a more interesting story-lne perhaps? The producers of this show fell for every disability cliche in the book and I can stake my life on the fact that it will do nothing to help improve the situation for disabled people in today’s society. This show will certainly not do anything to help improve my employment prospects in future. Thanks for ruining the opportunity to make television history!